"Intention is the beginning of your path. In fact, it's the most important part of the entire path, because it's the beginning of it."
Prepare for each pregnancy and birth as if it is the only pregnancy and birth you will ever have.
That may seem a lofty goal and that the bar is set unattainably high. However, with your mind set to approach each pregnancy this way, an energy is ignited that works to fuel this intention. The power of intention is a mighty thing and holds the potential to make your birth experience something equally powerful. Flip that coin and you may find that a lack of intention is a breeding ground for manipulation, pain and regret.
Do you know the line from country singer Aaron Tippin -
"you've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything"?
It kinda sums it all up! Having a vision for what you'd like to get from your pregnancy and birth is vital to knowing how to prepare. Birthing unmedicated, having a spiritual experience, reducing panic ...these hopes don't just happen! Intention is not the same as expectation, you know? I hear women often say, "I'm hoping for..." and you can fill in the blank with myriad phrases. Hoping to have a good experience (for example) doesn't just happen. That is an expectation that occurs with not enough regard for the work it can take to get there. (Kind of like: I expect I'll get a good parking space but if I don't, oh well.) Intention, on the other hand, fans the fire of curiousity that guides the steps women take to get the experience they hope for. (Kind of like: preparing to need to leave the house in time to beat the crowd to the shopping center in order to get the good parking space.)
Pam England, author of Birthing From Within and my mentor from years back, says to women who hope to have a normal, unmedicated birth: you must prepare like a tightrope walker who has no net. I totally get it, if you intend an unmedicated birth you will likely put into play the very things that make a difference and support you in achieving that desire: a thoughtful choice in provider and facility, hiring an experienced doula, aligning your body and mind with your intention, and more.
Mindful intention matched with purposeful preparation and grain of salt flexibility are key components to preparing for ANY type of birth. BUT if you've no vision at all for what you are about to enter into nor what you'd like it to look/feel/sound like, you will assuredly fall for anything.
Top three ways to begin mindfully setting your intentions for your pregnancy and birth:
1 Only read, watch and listen to reliable, trustworthy sources. If an univited story meets you in the grocery line quickly ask what the storyteller would do differently if she had it to do all over again - (because typically these are stories of horror rather than support, right?)
2 Know what you're asking for! It's not enough to say, "I want to feel in control." Peel the layers of that onion back farther and continue to question: what does control look like in labor, how do I find control in labor if I feel like I've lost it....
3 Engage your troops! Notice I didn't say: build your team. To engage your troops encourages not only hiring the best of the best for you but also to acknowledge that each player brings something of use to the table! And here's a novel idea: use it! If your midwife recommends 80 grams of protein per day, there's probably a reasoning! If your doula creates tips for the last trimester, they probably came as a result of watching what works! If you massage therapist assigns specific stretches to do at home, it's likely she's felt something that needs a tweak!
Your birth matters...you only have one go at each experience. Make the most of it!